By Janelle Landauer
Madison County Fair : Sara Evans and Gary Allan <Live In Concert Series>
Sara Evans and Gary Allan were the main attractions at the Madison County Fair this year.  The Madison County Fair is located in Madison, Nebraska.   Sara Evans took the stage on Saturday night, the 16th of July and Gary Allan on Sunday, the 17th of July.  Fun passes for this fair sold out this year, which was actually quite surprising, but it was a pretty good lineup.  Sara Evans started the night off with "Perfect" from her CD, Restless.

Sara Evans has one thing working against her but several things working for her.  The one thing not in her favor is the high notes she tries to hit, but often sound a bit forced.  You can tell this not only in her live shows but on her album as well.  What is working for Evans though is that she has the right songs and she is a performer. Evans writes the majority of her songs and singles and they all seem to have one thing in common: they have a catchy tune and lyrics that the fans love. 

Evans works the stage, the fans and she also works very well with her band.  Evans' and her band did an excellent job working together.  The fiddle player sang just as well as Evans.  The fiddle player also rocked out on the fiddle and guitar.  Evans' brother is in the band and has been for quite some time now.  I recognized him from the last Evans' concert I attended a couple years ago.

Her single "A Real Fine Place to Start" which is on her new album (Real Fine Place) is probably one of my favorites from her.  She performed "A Real Fine Place To Start" along with several of the singles that are on her new album.  The only real con to her show was the high pitch problems and that she didn't sing her single, "Tonight."  Top picks: "A Real Fine Place to Start," "I Could Not Ask For More," "Perfect," and "Cheatin'"

Gary Allan performed on Sunday, July 17th.  Allan took the stage a bit late because of a bad rain front that kept showering the fans.  Allan has hit the spotlight with such songs as "Tough Little Boys," "Right Where I Need To be," and "Smoke Rings In the Dark."  Allan did a fairly good job singing, but Allan falls way short on performance skills.  Allan doesn't seem to engage with the crowd and even messed up on some words when the crowd was singing louder than him.

Allan mentioned some life problems he has gone through recently and you could tell that his new material is centered on this pain.  "Best I Ever Had" shows that the "loved one" was the best he ever had.  Allan mentioned another song that deals with the packing up the memories of the past.  Allan overall looked like he could use a break from the road, but nonetheless sang relatively well.  Allan could have touched up on his performing skills quite a bit, though.  Top picks: "Best I Ever Had," "Smoke Rings In the Dark," and "Right Where I Belong."

On a side note:  Props to the Madison County Fair for the excellent fireworks display following Allan's show.  Fireworks are always a great addition to any show, but the amount and whole display was astonishing. 

Overall, Sara Evans was the "performer" compared to Gary Allan.  Evans might not have had the greatest vocals, but she knows how to work the crowd and try to get the fans involved.  Allan, on the other hand, seemed to not embrace the fans as much.  Most artists that at least have "known" songs hold the mic to the fans and let the crowd sing along.  Gary Allan didn't really care to do this and didn't try to involve the fans really in any way.

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